Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Bacteria in small sea life yield new way to make potential cancer drugs

Manipulating chemicals made by genetic pathways

Researchers led by a University of Utah medicinal chemist have developed a novel method to make drugs for cancer and other diseases from bacteria found in sponges and other small ocean creatures.

In a study published Sunday, Nov. 5, in Nature Chemical Biology online, researchers examined symbiotic bacteria that live only in sea squirts and other marine life. These bacteria are responsible for making a wealth of chemicals, which accumulate in the tissues of sea squirts and may help to defend them against predators. Many of these chemicals have anticancer properties, but harvesting them in quantities for large-scale testing and production has been impractical.

The new method uses genetic pathways in the bacteria to produce the small chemicals and to manipulate them to invent new potential drugs. The ability to make these chemicals in the laboratory opens myriad possibilities for developing drugs to fight cancer, HIV, and other diseases, according to Eric W. Schmidt, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy and senior author on the study.

... more about:
»Genetic »diseases »small

"This represents a new way of attacking the problem," Schmidt said. "We're hoping we can use this to find a way to make natural molecules of compounds through single mutations in DNA."

To synthesize natural compounds, researchers have traditionally made them in the lab using labor-intensive routes. More recently, researchers have begun to use genes to make small molecules within laboratory strains of bacteria. This genetic synthesis method is complicated because it's still difficult to understand how changing genes can lead to changes in small drug molecules.

"The promise of genes is that you can access the tremendous natural diversity of the world's organisms to find new natural compounds for human health," Schmidt said. "You can also use genetic engineering to modify these compounds and invent new drugs to target human diseases."

Sea squirts live with diverse bacteria that synthesize many small molecules. By examining the natural chemical and genetic diversity found in sea squirts and their symbionts, Schmidt and his colleagues from around the country identified individual mutations responsible for changing from one compound to another. By mimicking this natural process, the researchers synthesized a completely new compound. This paves the way to the genetic creation of large chemical libraries for testing against human diseases.

"This proves the concept works," Schmidt said. "We can extract bacteria from animals, take DNA from the bacteria, and produce compounds."

Now that they've shown compounds can be synthesized from DNA, the researchers want to figure out how to produce greater quantities of compounds for testing and drug development. E. coli is a good producer of compounds, but yields are not yet practical.

Phil Sahm | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Genetic diseases small

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
27.10.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The gene of autumn colours
27.10.2016 | Hokkaido University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

The gene of autumn colours

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Polymer scaffolds build a better pill to swallow

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>